Appeal court reserves judgement in case of five men

The Court of Criminal Appeal has reserved judgment in the case of five Limerick men who want their appeal against their murder conviction to be dealt with by the Supreme Court.

The Court of Criminal Appeal has reserved judgment in the case of five Limerick men who want their appeal against their murder conviction to be dealt with by the Supreme Court.

Anthony McCarthy from Fairgreen in Garryowen, Christopher Costello of Moylish Avenue in Ballynanty Beg, David Stanners from Pineview Gardens in Moyross, James McCarthy from Delmege Park in Moyross and Desmond Dundon from Hyde Road were convicted of murder, attempted murder and kidnap in 2003.

They now range in age from 27 to 39 years.

Their lawyers are seeking to have their cases referred to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that they raise points of “exceptional public importance”.

The men want a Supreme Court ruling on a number of issues, which they say have not previously been determined by the court.

These include whether the trial judge erred in refusing to discharge the jury when it emerged a Garda clerical officer had been empanelled on the jury, in circumstances where gardaí themselves are disbarred from jury service.

The person in question worked at a Dublin Garda station and was not linked to the investigating Garda station in Limerick.

The legal team also says the fact that the prosecution objected to another jury member because they were related to someone who had a criminal conviction “has led to a suspicion of previous inquiry or vetting” of the jury.

Mr Justice Niall Fennelly presiding at the three-judge court said however that this “couldn't conceivably be so”.

It was also argued that media publicity was prejudicial and the men's trial should have been adjourned to allow for people's memories of this publicity – the “fade factor” - to apply.

Lawyers said there had been “significant media intrusion” citing the image of a “two-fingered gesture” that had appeared in newspapers as well as discussions of issues surrounding the case on 'The Late Late Show'.

But counsel for the prosecution, Mr Paul Burns SC, counter-argued “that no points of law of exceptional public importance” applied in this case.

On the publicity issue, he argued that “the courts have sufficiently set out the law in that area and nothing further needs to be dealt with by the Supreme Court in this regard.”

Referring to the juror who was employed as a clerical officer in a Garda station, Mr Burns said there was no question that they had knowledge of any of the parties involved in the trial.

As for the jury vetting issue, Mr Burns said there was “simply no evidence of any attempt to vet the jury in any way in advance of the trial and of withholding that information from the accused.”

The five men were convicted of murdering 36-year-old Kieran Keane, who was from Garryowen in Limerick, on January 29, 2003 and of the attempted murder of his nephew, Owen Treacy, who was stabbed 17 times, on the same date.

Mr Keane had his hands tied behind his back and was shot in the head in an execution-style killing. There was evidence that he was tortured at or before the time of death.

The state's case had been that all five acted as part of a joint enterprise and as such, were all involved in the murder and abduction.

Evidence in the 31-day trial was heard in Cloverhill Courthouse, attached to Wheatfield Prison, for security reasons.

The men did not appear before the CCA because of their “threatening and aggressive” behaviour in July 2007, when their appeal against their murder convictions was rejected.

Copies of large and heavy judgments were flung at the courts judges at the time.

Mr Justice Fennelly reserved judgment in the case and said that a decision will be made by the court as soon as possible.

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